Categories
Console Games PC Games Review

Game Thoughts – No Man’s Sky

I’m not calling this a review as I’m not that far in, but I already have a lot of complicated thoughts about No Man’s Sky.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Is it any good?  I don’t…know?  Seriously, I can see how some people can tune into it – there is something zen about scooting around a planet, finding the gear drops and cataloging animals.  I don’t know if that part of it is going to hold up, as there is no real progression there.  You can go to another different planet millions of times, but the steps you do are pretty much always going to be the same.
  2. The linear progression is too linear.  Your backpack and ship, save for one specific situation below, always increase by one notch of space when you improve them.  You are constantly juggling inventory.  There are so many crafting materials and parts you need that you never get ahead of it.  If you are going to have a limited inventory, you need a better balance of when you make the player have to make that keep/toss decision.  Every five minutes, every fracking time you land at a new shelter or whatever, is TOO MUCH.
  3. Sameness.  It’s a bit too easy to see “The Matrix” behind it all, as one of the Penny Arcade guys said yesterday, as there are only so many components they use to make up the creatures, and while the planets vary in numerous ways, it’s all within a very specific set of parameters.  For the ships, sure, they look different, but there literally nothing else about them that’s unique – you’re just checking a box to get one more bit of inventory space when you switch.
  4. Is there a story?  It seems like there is, and some of the the little side stories seem interesting, but it’s not (yet) the focus of the game.  We’ll see what happens as I get farther in.

It’s funny, I’ve written all of that, and if I look back it seems not very positive, but I DO want to play again.  It’s almost like, there are hints at a larger, more interesting story surrounding all of this and I just haven’t seen it yet.  I’m just not 100% convinced that the story actually exists, and that the treadmill of find minerals – slightly upgrade your stuff – repeat at a place only slightly different is worth sticking around long enough to find out.  I’ll revisit this and update it if I delve deeper.

Categories
Android Games Review

Mobile Game Review – Marvel’s Avengers Academy

Marvel’s latest mobile game is Avengers Academy, which is one of those thing where they reimagine existing characters (hero and villain) as teenagers.  It works well here, as it seems like there’s some time travel-type shenanigans hinted at as far as the story goes.  It’s by TinyCo, and if you’ve played one of their other games, you’ll get the gist here right away.  Build buildings, recruit new characters, level up, all overlaid with an interface replete with ways to pay to hurry up your progress.

1-Screenshot_20160216-191311

What makes the game work (mostly) for me is the art and voices.  As you upgrade the heroes (and uncover the truth of what’s happening), they begin to look more like their comic book counterparts, and the animations and designs are sharp.  It’s fun watching a giant Hank Pym hop up and sit on his lab, or Wasp and Falcon zipping around the quad.

3-Screenshot_20160209-123035

As far as paying for things goes, the key is to treat it like a game you pick up and play a few minutes at a time, and not rushing through.  Some actions take hours, but I just pop in every once in a while and collect everything and start new actions and it progresses (albeit slowly).  Will I stick with it long term?  We’ll see, but it’s a fun diversion for now.

Categories
Android Games Review

Game Review – Tiny Death Star and Heroes of Dragon Age

I don’t talk about or review Android games very often here, mostly because I’m usually the last guy to try one.  But I want to speak about two games today, and the sharp contrast is enjoyment that has nothing to do with the games themselves.  Both Tiny Death Star and Heroes of Dragon Age are based on franchises I enjoy.  Both games are technically ‘free to play’ as well but oh, that’s the rub, isn’t it?

wpid-Screenshot_2013-12-12-18-36-25.pngTiny Death Star is game by Nimblebit via Lucasarts, a Star Wars spin on the company’s Tiny Tower.  The 8-bit pixel graphics are cute, with animations to match.  You need coins (earned from the levels you build as the game progresses) to buy new levels, and each one costs more than the next.  However, as more levels means more cash, there’s a progression.  The ‘bux’ (the currency you can buy with real money) can be earned by playing the game as well as by spending real cash.  It never seems like it’s hopeless if you want to get the updated elevators or whatever else you can buy with bux without spending real money, but if you want to, go for it.

That’s a stark contrast to EA’s Heroes of Dragon Age.  What amounts to a collectible card game with 3d graphics, I had a lot of fun building my squad of heroes and creatures.  The missions weren’t much more than a wall of text and a battle screen, but I enjoyed it.  Until I got to the first mission on the Carta map.  It’s got me ground to a halt.  I’ve been going back through the missions again, grinding away at the missions to get the crystals you can use to buy new randomized characters, but it still hasn’t helped.  There’s no progression, it just stops.  I am fairly certain that what I need is one more high-end character, but it might take weeks of useless grinding until I luck out and get something the one thing I need.  It stops being fun, and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Heroes of Dragon Age interested me as I hoped it would tie in to the forthcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition in some way.  It comes off feeling like a blatant cash grab for impatient DA fans.  Tiny Death Star is fun just on it’s own, but that can be enhanced optionally with cash.  Guess which one I’m still playing?

Categories
PC Games Review

Get to know an MMO: Marvel Heroes

Note:  First in a series where I look at current MMO games from a Free to Play perspective (as I’m too much of a cheapskate to pay for a monthly fee unless the game is REALLY good).

As you know from this site, I’m a big Marvel comics fan.  I read them as a kid, especially Iron Man and the Silver Surfer.  I watch the movies, I can’t wait for Agents of SHIELD, I’m all in.  The chance to play Marvel themed MMO (that I didn’t have to pay $15 a month for) was too good to pass up.

To start the game, you can pick one of five heroes:  Hawkeye (who I picked), Storm, Daredevil, Ben Grimm, and the Scarlet Witch.  You get one more of these five when you play through the early game content the first time.  Other heroes can be purchased, or appear as loot when fighting.  Same goes for alternate costumes, though there were some exclusives only available if you bought in to the game ahead of time, and I’ve gotten one Iron Man 3 themed costume (the Mark 17) from a giveaway, so that’ll probably be a thing.

As for the gameplay, it’s an action-RPG, so the Diablo comparisons are right on.  Skill trees, waypoints, loot drops, it’s all there.  In practice, the heroes and their powers don’t stray far from the usual Melee/Ranged/Magic archetypes, with some customization thanks to the skills.  Because it’s a mishmash of so many Marvel heroes, the villains are the same, so you may be fighting HYDRA here, AIM there, the Hand, the Maggia, and so on.  I’m several chapters in on the story, and there’s juuuust enough there to keep you interested.  The motion comic-style interludes are fun, and a nice change compared to the usual cutscenes.

One quirk is that the leveling is based on the individual character, so each new hero you find starts life (for you) as a level 1 hero.  The game allows you to reset the storyline to the beginning and replay it, or you can just hit the waypoints so you are fighting level appropriate enemies.  It doesn’t take long to play through, but that’s going to get repetitive quick, unless some new…what, issues?  episodes?  or whatever come quick.

There seems to be some form of grouping that happens when you enter certain instances or similar areas.  I am not doing anything with grouping or guilds beyond that, yet.

“Free” to Play Annoyance Factor:  Low.  This could shade towards medium if you REALLY want to play as a certain hero and you don’t get them in a drop, ever.  But so far there really isn’t a huge amount of paywalled stuff.  This game will live or die based on how much you really want to play as Iron Man, or if you MUST have a certain costume or armor.  People have been killing Gazillion and Marvel on the pricing for new heroes, but since I’m looking at this as a cheapskate, it bothers me not in the slightest.

I am kind of surprised I’m still playing this, but it’s fun enough.  Maybe the fact it’s an action-RPG works in it’s favor, but I’ll probably stick with it for a while.  My account is TheTickMS, and you’ll usually see me as Hawkeye.  By the way, they totally need the t-shirt/jeans/purple Chuck Taylors ‘costume’ from the current run of Hawkguy.

Categories
Featured PC Games Review

SimCity – My Impressions

Spark_2013-03-27_02-58-20If you are reading this, you probably know all the debates on the new SimCity, about always-on (and whether it’s needed), how scummy EA is, the stupid decisions leading up to the release of the game, and so on.  I’ll be touching on all of that, as well as the actual gameplay.

First, Origin.  I really don’t like Origin as a platform.  Steam already won out for me as far as a game hosting platform, I didn’t need another one with all different ‘friends’.  They also didn’t let you pre-load the game, which would’ve helped EA immensely when the release hit.  It’s also an extra layer of clcking to even GET to the game, as you click Play on Origin, but that doesn’t, you know, PLAY the game, that opens another window, which runs the updater, and then you get to click again.  Why?  Isn’t that the benefit of having an always-on client?  You make me use it, but it provides no convenience or benefit to me.

So, you’re in the game finally.  A note on regions:  forget, at least for now, trying to join random folks in a public region.  You can’t sort them by any means, or filter out filled regions.  They come up in the same order each time, so you’d have to page past every full region to try and find one with a city site open.  That’s actually just a theory, as I paged past dozens of regions and never got far enough to find one with open spots.  Hopefully you are playing with friends, and you can click their name and join their regions (or get invited to private regions).  I won’t tell you that sometimes friend requests are buggy, though.

Once you’ve battled past these issues though, and you are in a city site, and building…well, it’s just great.  The simplifications to zoning, power and water help to cut down on pointless busywork.  Curved roads can be difficult to work with, but can make for some lovely designs – I wish there were some oddly shaped buildings that could better take advantage of the space though.  At least for me, the game seems bring along something new to manage at just the right time, which is usually when I’m feeling pretty confident in my mayoral abilities.  It hasn’t felt particularly hard to me, even at 125k inhabitants, but there were a few touchy moments.  Usually they were caused by changes my region-mates made, like using up all the water or sewer capacity I was using while I was signed off.  That’s an annoying side effect of the asynchronous multiplayer, especially if you don’t have the money/space to easily fix the issue when you do jump back in.

Now, the question:  Should I buy this game?  Looking at just the game itself, and not the opinions on EA and Origin, it’s a qualified yes.  Can you get your head around building a smaller, focused city versus a huge sprawling megalopolis?  Do you have friends you’d like to play a SimCity game with?  Go for it.  If not, you may just want to play SC2k again.  This doesn’t replace that, at least for me.

Categories
Featured PC Games

Game Review – Home

“Where am I? Is this blood? What have I done?”

Okay, just finished my first playthrough of Home, an indie game developed by Benjamin Rivers, newly available via Steam. I’m a lightweight when it comes to horror stuff, but I’m a little freaked out here.  I bought it (for all of $2.54) because of the old school graphics, and the thought that what happened is based on your perception and choices as much as what was programmed.  If you don’t want to be unspoiled, read the ‘What Happened?’ link to see what I mean.  I can’t honestly tell if some of the things these other people saw or did are real or not.  “Who was that following me in the forest??” one asks…what??  Did I miss that, or what it really happening?  “I wish I had let that mouse out of the trap…”  Why?  What happened because of that mouse?  Goes to show that a good game experience isn’t based on pixel shaders and frames per second.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going back and taking the shovel with me this time…

Categories
Featured Review

Continuing Game Review: Dragon Age 2

Note:  Continuing means I will revisit this as I get farther in.

Of course I couldn’t avoid Dragon Age 2 for very long, considering how much I loved Dragon Age: Originsand all the related DLC/expansion content.  So here I am, almost through with Kirkwall (pre-Deep Roads expedition), and enjoying it quite a bit.  I’ll put the rest after the jump as there may be SPOILERS.